McCormick is a brand I have known since I was a little girl, I would find their little jars while rummaging through my mom’s spice drawer. Today McCormick is still a drawer-filler and dinner-maker. And thanks to modern technology, McCormick Gourmet is doubling their efforts to reach their customers in an effort to ‘help with dinner.’
I am fascinated that many iconic brands are reinventing themselves, embracing social media, videos/contests/celebrities and humble bloggers [like myself] to reach out to their customers. I peeked at their website and was thrilled to find chefs like Cat Cora and Richard Blais offering quick cooking demos using McCormick Gourmet products. And they are hoping customers will join their ‘Dinner Party Chain’ via facebook. Aiming to engage and understand their fans, McCormick wants to know ‘what is your dinner party wish?’ Answering this fun question automatically enters you into a contest ($1000).
Now that you have all that pertinent information, let’s talk menus, recipes, mothers and parties. I decided to use McCormick Gourmet seasoning mixes for Mother’s Day dinner. My mom and dad trekked to our home in Seattle with 3 of my nieces/nephews in tow. My husband James and two teenage sons, Anthony and Caleb, were also at the table. It was a glorious and sunny day, and the kids played games, visited the park and kicked around a soccer ball. We all relaxed and visited, noshed and nibbled, caught up and slowed down.
Since it was mother’s day I didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. Though usually I concoct my own spice blends, today I was happy to reach for McCormick Gourmet’s already-blended seasoning mixes. Two things I like: 1. their seasoning mixes have a precise recipe/menu listed on front (e.g. creamy Parmesan and sundried tomato chicken penne OR bourbon spiced pork with roasted sweet potatoes and apples), and 2. there is an expiration date. People don’t always realize that dried herbs and spices have a relatively short shelf life. If the spice has taken up a lengthy residence in your spice drawer—you might as well throw it in the compost. Dried herbs are great for 6 months to year, dried spices a bit longer. Thankfully, McCormick seasoning mixes have a date—which means if you use it by that date you will benefit from the blend’s fullest flavor.
I could have easily followed the packet’s instructions to make Chicken Penne, but I had my own plans for this blend of marjoram, thyme and oregano. I planned to keep it as simple as possible: I used the seasoning packet mixed with olive oil to 1. coat the potatoes for roasting and 2. to marinate the chicken prior to grilling. Then I tossed a salad with lettuce from my garden, and spent time in the kitchen peeling apples with mom as we tossed together an apple crisp for dessert.
appetizer: smoked salmon, boursin cheese & crackers
appetizer: bacon-wrapped, quinoa and goat cheese stuffed dates
appetizer: mixed olives with oil and a pinch of McCormick’s Seasoning Mix: Sweet Basil & Oregano Bruschetta Chicken Recipe and Seasoning Mix
mixed green salad with white balsamic vinaigrette, candied pecans and blue cheese
roasted potatoes and grilled chicken (McCormick’s Creamy Parmesan and Sundried Tomato Chicken Penne Recipe and Seasoning Mix)
dessert: apple crisp with homemade vanilla ice cream
4 medium apples, peeled and sliced into small chunks.
juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup soft butter (plus a little extra to butter baking dish)
tsp cinnamon (McCormick)
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg (McCormick)
butter an 8×8 baking dish or 4-6 ramekins. Fill with apples, squeeze lemon juice on top. Blend ‘crisp’ ingredients until combined; spread over top of crisp. Bake 375 for 30 minutes or until finished. GREAT with homemade vanilla ice cream and caramel.
Needless to say, the dinner was a hit, everyone was asking for more chicken—the plates were licked clean. My mom was ogling some of the McCormick Gourmet seasoning mixes on my counter—perhaps having her own nostalgia over this familiar brand and/or more likely intrigued by the idea of an instant menu plan. I told her to help herself to the packets I had remaining and she happily tucked a few into her purse. What can I say? Thanks McCormick Gourmet for making mother’s day a good one, with an easy meal and take-away gifts, less time in the kitchen and more time for hanging out with family.